Unreported discards of internationally protected pelagic sharks in a global fishing hotspot are potentially large

Mucientes, G, Vedor, M, Sims, DW and Queiroz, N 2022 Unreported discards of internationally protected pelagic sharks in a global fishing hotspot are potentially large. Biological Conservation, 269, 109534. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109534

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Global abundances of oceanic pelagic sharks have declined due to overfishing. Internationally protected shark species remain at risk due to indiscriminate bycatch in longline fisheries with under-reported catches affecting reliability of population assessments for management. However, the scale of under-reporting remains poorly understood. Here we use detailed shark species catch data in a global fishing hotspot to show that the discards of three globally or regionally ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ species (bigeye thresher Alopias superciliosus; oceanic whitetip Carcharhinus longimanus; smooth hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena) are potentially under-reported on a large scale: the total discards made by a single observed vessel in April–June 2018 in the eastern tropical Atlantic exceeded by 1.3–11.0 times the discards reported officially for these species Atlantic-wide for all of 2018. Scaling up observed catches (discards) of a single vessel to potential discards made by a single nation's fleet in the region, we estimate a mean annual total of 1526.2 t (±1 S.D. range: 415.3–2637.0 t), which exceeds by 89.2 times (±1 S.D. range: 24.3–154.2 times) the official reported discards for these three species. Without reducing bycatch mortality, which at present appears obscured by substantial under-reporting, Atlantic populations remain at serious risk.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Protected sharks, Longline fisheries, Bycatch, Under-reporting, Discard mortality
Subjects: Conservation
Data and Information
Earth Observation - Remote Sensing
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Other (MBA)
Depositing User: Tamar Atkinson
Date made live: 24 Jun 2022 13:00
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 16:57
URI: https://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9715

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